By Akhtar AminDecember 02, 2016Print : Peshawar
PESHAWAR: The Interior Ministry on Thursday submitted a reply to the Peshawar High Court and said it was the prerogative of the federal government to extend or cancel visas of the foreign nationals, praying the court to dismiss writ petitions that had sought stay of the Turkish teachers and staff at Pak-Turk International schools and colleges in the province.
However, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) division bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Khan extended the stay of Turkish staff members in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and their families till December 13 as the federal government reply was not submitted on files of the cases during hearing.
Deputy attorney generals Musarratullah Khan and Arshad Hussain Shah prayed the court to vacate the stay order on deportation of the Turkish teachers and staff of the schools and colleges. They submitted before the bench cancelling or extending visas of the Turkish staff was part of the country’s foreign policy and now the government had issued them exit permits. It said that the government had given six days, not three days to the staff for leaving the country.
They also informed the bench that the Turkish government had already replaced the present teaching and administrative staff at the Pak-Turk international schools and colleges in Pakistan. The government was not going to close these educational institutions.
In the reply, the Interior Ministry stated that it had not extended the visas of administrative and teaching staff along with their family members and had also informed the Pak-Turk Educational Foundation and Pak-Turk International Cag Educational Foundation of the same.
It was submitted that an exit permit was issued by the ministry on November 14 with the direction to the staff to leave the country before November 20. The ministry said in the reply that the foundation had applied for extension in visas of their expatriates in August.
It said that almost 90 percent visas of their expatriates have expired in September, but they stayed in Pakistan without further visa extension. However, it said that the ministry issued them regret letter after following the due process and an exit permit was issued accordingly.
The Interior Ministry submitted that it had cancelled the visas after following the due process under Section 3 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Article 3(3) of Foreigners Order, 1951.
During the hearing, Dr Muhammad Zubair, father of a student of the school, submitted before the court that it was the matter of the future of their children. The bench issued directions in a writ petition filed by Shah Muhammad and others parents whose children are enrolled at the Pak-Turk International School and College, Hayatabad, and a Turkish teacher at the school. Lawyers Niaz Ali and Khalid Tanveer Rohaila appeared in the case on behalf of the petitioners.
The petitioners’ lawyer submitted before the bench that Pak-Turk School and College was affiliated with the Cambridge University. He said that more than 11,000 students were getting education in 28 campuses of the Pak-Turk International schools and colleges in different cities of Pakistan.
The lawyer argued it was a political decision of the federal government due to which the future of over 11,000 students was at stake. They said the government even didn’t wait till March 2017 to allow the completion of the academic year.
It is pertinent to mention here that in July this year, Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Sadik Babur Girgin at a media briefing on the developments in Turkey after the failed coup attempt to topple the government had said that Turkey “called on all friendly countries to prevent activities of this (Gulen’s) group” and “close down institutions run by Fethullah Gülen.”
A chain of 28 schools and colleges is functioning under the Pak-Turk Education Foundation International Schools and Colleges in Pakistan in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta. There are 1,500 staff members, including 110 Turkish, at these institutions.